Marlies light eating for Wolves

The Chicago Wolves continued the Canadian portion of the Ice Capades road trip, trouncing the Toronto Marlies 8-1 Monday at the Ricoh Coliseum.

The first period was marked by 18 minutes of penalties, one fight and six goals. The teams had 34 shots on goal in the period. Fred Brathwaite, stopped 19 shots, only letting Jeff Corey’s lone goal in at just past five minutes into the period. Jean-Francois Racine, meanwhile stopped nine shots, while letting five pucks pass including a short-handed goal and a power play goal.

Andre Deveaux, acquired by the Atlanta Thrashers in a trade on Thursday from the Tampa Bay Lightning, opened the scoring up for the Wolves by skating behind the net to pick up a pass, spinning and flipping it into the goal. Tied, the Wolves scored six more times in the next twelve minutes. Additional goals were scored by Joey Crabb, Kevin Doell and Brian Fahey before the Marlies pulled Racine.

Not stopping, the Wolves continued to score on Marlies goalie Justin Pogge when Brett Sterling potted two goals in a space of three minutes.

Derek MacKenzie continued the scoring in the third frame and Troy Milam ended the slaughter of the baby Leafs with a power play netter. In all, 19 points were awarded to 15 of the 21 players on the Wolves bench, including an assist to Brathwaite. Sterling received three points. Alex Bourret, MacKenzie, Doell and Cory Larose received two points each.

Sterling is now the leading active scorer in the American Hockey league with 42 goals and 70 points in 49 games this season. Brathwaite’s win propels him among the top ten goalies of the AHL, with a save percentage of 92 percent and a 2.56 Goals against average.

The power play unit was two for six on the night. The Wolves power play is now at 21.3 percent and an astounding 23.1 percent on the road.

The win gives the Wolves 69 points. The trailing Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights have five games on the Wolves, and 61 points. Since January 19th, when the Wolves ended a 1-7 stretch with a decisive victory over the Peoria Rivermen, they have gone 6-1-2 and allowed 19 goals in 9 games while helping themselves to 44 goals in the process. During this entire period, they have been without Jason Krog, and in the last three games, Darren Haydar.

Additional meat has been added to the blue line with the presence of Andy Delmore. Delmore was acquired as part of the previously discussed trade between the Thrashers and the Lightning. Boris Valabik, the 6’ 7" blue liner who was injured in late December, was practicing with the team in Winnipeg but has not returned to the ice for play. Despite his absence, the defense has only allowed 2.11 goals per game since the 19th. That is about 31.2 percent less goals allowed than the AHL average of 3.06 per game. In the first half of the season, the Wolves were the fourth worst team for allowing goals.

Brathwaite stopped 39 shots on goal for the win. Pogge stopped 20 shots, all in the second and third periods. The loss went to Racine. The Wolves play the Hamilton Bulldogs, second place team in the North Division, on Wednesday and Friday before returning to Toronto to complete the Canadian swing with another game against the Marlies on Saturday. The road trip is interrupted by a single game at home against the Syracuse Crunch on Sunday. The Crunch game will be the seventh game in ten days for the Wolves. The Wolves then play three road games in Texas ending on February 23 against the San Antonio Rampage.

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